There are all kinds of symptoms that can tip you off to a hormonal imbalance. Thinning or receding hair, lower energy levels, prematurely aging skin – these are pretty obvious signs that something’s wrong. However, there’s one major symptom of hormonal imbalance that often gets ignored, and that symptom is low sex drive.
Why would this particular symptom get overlooked, where the other ones are taken more seriously? That depends on the individual, but generally speaking a low sex drive won’t affect someone as much as constant exhaustion, or the thought that they could be bald by 45. Since a poor sex drive could be the first sign of an imbalance, though, it’s best to keep an eye on it; think of it as your “early warning system” that something’s off with your hormones.
Of course, if you wanted to be certain about where your hormone levels are at, you could get a sex drive test. You could even have them done from the comfort of your own home, using at-home lab tests like the ones available from Base. But how can you tell if your low sex drive is coming from imbalanced hormones, or if it’s just a temporary fluctuation? Here are a few symptoms that often accompany low sex hormones; if some of them sound familiar, maybe it’s time to get your hormone levels tested.
Sexual dysfunction (for men)
Most discussions of men’s hormones focus on testosterone, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s true that low testosterone is often the main culprit in conditions like ED, but that’s not always the case. It could be that a man’s testosterone levels are fine, but his estradiol levels are too high; hormone ratios can be just as important as the actual levels. Then there’s cortisol, a hormone that regulates energy levels (nicknamed the “fight or flight” hormone). Whether you’re a man or a woman, chronically high cortisol will almost definitely decrease sex hormone levels; for men, in particular, high cortisol can result in sexual dysfunction.
Pain during intercourse (for women)
Women may find it a little trickier than men to identify low sex drive, mainly because the female sex drive comes with natural variations during each menstrual cycle. One thing that’s impossible to miss, though, is routine discomfort or irritation during intercourse. If this symptom appears alongside a decreased libido, it’s quite possible that imbalanced hormones are to blame.
Believe it or not, people with imbalanced hormones can end up with self-esteem issues, especially if they have a partner. If their low hormones mess with their sex drives, they could end up feeling sexually inadequate, or like they’re letting their partner down. Most people like to find something to blame for any given problem; if they don’t know that their hormone levels are causing the issue, they could end up blaming themselves instead.
Sorry, macho men – this applies to you just as much as it does to women. Estrogen gets a bad rap for causing random bursts of tears, but low testosterone can make guys just as unpredictable. Instead of crying, it could be a temper tantrum, or just a sudden bout of depression that appears out of the blue. Male or female, if you notice both mood swings and a consistently low libido, maybe your hormones are just too off-kilter to maintain a steady mood.
Decreased sexual desire
A muted libido can be caused by all kinds of things; it won’t always come from a long-term hormonal imbalance. What’s the biggest tip-off? Take note of how long it’s been since you noticed a poor sex drive. If it comes and goes, there’s probably something in your lifestyle or environment that’s temporarily depressing your sex hormones. If it’s consistently lower than you’d expect, that’s a pretty good indication that your body can’t make enough of the hormones you need for a healthy sex drive.
What could a sex drive test teach you about your libido?
If you get the right hormone and vitamin levels tested, plus some expert help in interpreting your results, you could not only identify what’s causing the problem, but also how to prevent that same issue in the future.
Doctors are great, but they don’t usually order comprehensive hormone panels simply because someone walks into the exam room complaining of a low libido and mood swings. That’s why Base is a good option for people who want to take their health into their own hands, without giving up the reliability of certified labs and trained doctors. With Base’s at-home tests, you can complete any test with either a finger-prick or saliva sample – no appointments or doctor’s offices necessary. Your results will be available in the Base app within a few days; you won’t just be able to see your hormone levels, but also your own personalized, common-sense recommendations for lifestyle or dietary changes that can improve your hormonal balance.
What could you test with Base as you figure out your sex hormones? Aside from the three main players (testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol), you can also test the following:
- DHEA, a precursor to important sex hormones
- Vitamin D, another precursor to sex hormones, and actually a hormone itself
- Cortisol, a stress hormone that can reduce testosterone levels in men, and progesterone levels in women, when it’s chronically elevated
- SHBG, or Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, which influences testosterone levels
- HbA1c, a type of hemoglobin that often results in hormonal imbalances when it’s too high
If this already seems like a lot to digest, don’t stress – you’ll have all the help you need on the Base app! Each test gives you the opportunity to focus on a particular area, so you won’t have to figure everything out at once. As you start to see improvements after each new test, you’ll be putting together the big picture – and you’ll be learning about what you can do to keep your hormone levels balanced and healthy for years into the future!